Area Management Biologist
Phone: (907) 746-6300
February 18, 2016
Anglers are advised that, in an effort to meet king salmon escapement goals in the Susitna River and Little Susitna River drainages, the following sport fishing restrictions are in effect beginning Sunday, May 1, 2016 in the Susitna River drainage (Units 1-6) and Little Susitna River (please refer to pages 23 – 47 of the 2016 Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet for a complete description of these waters). These restrictions are similar to those contained in preseason emergency orders issued 2013 – 2015, except in 2016 the Deshka River will start the season with multiple hooks and bait allowed June 1 per regulation; one additional day of harvest per week will be allowed on the Little Susitna River:
- Annual limit of two (2) king salmon 20 inches or longer area wide. The total annual limit of king salmon 20 inches or longer taken from fresh waters of Cook Inlet remains at five (5), but no more than two may be taken in combination from the Susitna River and Little Susitna River drainages.
- Only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure is allowed, except Deshka River. Single-hook means a fish hook with only one point. Treble hooks and more than one single-hook are prohibited.
- Harvest is allowed on the Deshka River 7 days per week and multiple hooks are allowed per regulation. Bait is allowed per regulation June 1 – August 31.
- Harvest is allowed on specific days within the Yentna River drainage (Unit 4), except for the Talachulitna River. Harvest within Unit 4 (except for the Talachulitna River) will be restricted to Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays only; fishing, but not harvest of king salmon is allowed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
- King salmon harvest (of any size) is prohibited within Unit 1 (except on Deshka River), on the Parks Highway streams within Unit 2, the upper Susitna (Unit 3), Talachulitna River (Unit 4), Talkeetna River (Unit 5), and Chulitna River (Unit 6). Fishing, but not harvest of king salmon will be allowed during days and times normally open to king salmon fishing within these management units. Specifically within Unit 2, these days correspond to January 1 through the third Monday in June (June 20), and for the next two consecutive three-day weekends (Saturday through Monday, June 25 – 27 and Saturday through Monday, July 2 – 4. King salmon may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately. In the waters of Unit 2 open to catch-and-release fishing for king salmon, fishing for trout and other species will not be affected by these emergency regulations for king salmon and will continue as written in current regulation.
- King salmon harvest in the Little Susitna River is restricted to Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays only. King salmon harvest (of any size) is prohibited on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays; fishing, but not harvest of king salmon is allowed on these days. King salmon that are intended to be released may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.
- The Eklutna Tailrace is excluded from all restrictions.
Northern Cook Inlet king salmon runs have been well below average since 2007, and this trend is expected to continue to 2016. Harvest and escapement data over recent years in combination with recent strength of age class relationships derived from data collected at the Deshka and Little Susitna weirs indicate that additional harvest over 2013 – 2015 levels is sustainable for these systems only. Below average runs during previous years, past performance of fisheries within the Susitna River and Little Susitna River drainages under previous years’ management strategies, and uncertainty over how returns may recover in the future justify starting the 2016 season with these restrictions. Data gathered from weirs, boat surveys, and aerial surveys will be used to gauge run strength during the season. This management strategy is designed to provide fishing opportunity throughout the season and reduce the potential for midseason closures, yet achieve the escapement goals in Northern Cook Inlet.
For more information, contact Sam Ivey at (907) 746-6300.